Blue is the Warmest Color is the exploration of a relationship between two young women from the first glance to the aftermath of a painful breakup. The French title of this movie was La Vie d’Adele – Chapitre 1 & 2 (in English The Life of Adele – Chapters 1 & 2). While Adele is the protagonist the movie is very much about the impact that her relationship with Emma had on her life. When the movie begins she is still in high school and trying to figure out life and love. She dates a young man briefly but there are no sparks for her. Then the blue haired, art student Emma catches her eye and they begin a passionate affair. The movie tracks the arc of their relationship over several years. No dates are provided at any point, so I had a hard time gauging exactly how much time had past between the key events.
2 hr 59 minutes
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Winner of the Cannes Palme d’or, Blue is the Warmest Color was one of the most controversial films of 2013. First it contains a graphic sex scene that is almost 7 minutes long. The scene drew a lot of criticism as not being a realistic depiction of lesbian sex. Julie Maroh, the author of the graphic novel on which the film was based wrote on her blog, “It appears to me this was what was missing on the set: lesbians.” To add fuel to the controversy fire, one of the lead actresses, Léa Seydoux also complained publicly about the director calling the shoot horrible.
All in all, the movie is definitely worth watching. It’s decidedly French, with a lot of unapologetic smoking, drinking and sex. The dialogue is sparse at times. There are a myriad of shots of mundane things like eating pasta and sleeping. I understand that is the style of the film, but it made the pace rather slow at times. In spite of that, the performances are amazing and the story that is told is both moving and tragic. The film leaves an emotional impression and stays on your mind for several days after watching it.
Both actresses give outstanding performances but for me Léa Seydoux made the movie. She exudes a charismatic magnetism that draws you in like the force of gravity. How could Adele not fall in love with Emma when she smiles at her?
Adèle Exarchopoulos gives and emotional performance. She takes you on a rollercoaster ride from the joy of falling in love to the pain of living with the choices that you make.
Gauging the writing on a foreign film is always a little tricky. It seems like something always get lost in translation. I felt the movie was a little long and there were scenes that wouldn’t have been missed if they were cut. But in this case, the director may be more responsible for that than the writer.
The chemistry between the characters is electric. From the moment they lock eyes on the street to their last scene together the bond between them is palpable.
There is a lot of sex in this movie. Their first love scene is almost 7 minutes long and very graphic. It started out sexy and then careened into the ridiculous. For a movie that aimed to give a realistic portrayal of life and love, the first love scene misses the mark a bit. The lack of choreography and the multiple positions makes it more frenetic than sexy at times. It felt like they were trying to show every position in the Kama Sutra. One coherent love scene that built to a climax (yes, I used that word on purpose) would have served the movie better than a mishmash of sexual positions. They missed an opportunity to portray the emotional intimacy between the women during sex. And since this is Adele’s first time with a woman, I would have expected her to have a greater sense of discovery and exploration. The second love scene is the scissoring scene, which caused some controversy as well. The third one came the closest to showing an emotional intimacy between them.
This is definitely a lesbian love story and that is the central focus of the film. Emma definitely identifies as gay. Adele never really picks a side. She struggles at various times with dating a woman. She hides it from her parents, her friends and her co-workers. Yet, her relationship with Emma is clearly the most significant in her life. Despite her affairs with men, it seemed pretty clear she is far more attracted to women.
This movie has solid production values. It portrays a very down to earth representation of the characters and their environments. The actors don’t wear a lot of makeup. There is no need for elaborate costumes. The filming straight forward and understated which is to be expected. There is a stark lack of music in this film. Aside from a couple of scenes that had music as part of the ambient the background, there is virtually no soundtrack or scoring. It was clearly an artistic choice but at times I found it almost too quiet.
- A touching coming of age love story.
- Performaces are superb.
- Some of the sex scenes weren't realistic.
- Subtitles - if that bothers you.